Sewer rates start to rise in Turlock

TURLOCK -- Sewer rates will be higher next year.

Without discussion or dispute, City Council members Tuesday put the final stamp on a plan to gradually increase sewer rates by 24 percent by 2013. Eventually, the average ratepayer's monthly bill will increase from $34.65 to $42.95.

Rates will go up by 7 percent starting Jan. 1.

The increases will generate more than $30 million and help pay for a waste-water treatment plant expansion. The plant on South Walnut Road treats everything that's washed down a drain or flushed down a toilet in Ceres, Denair, Keyes and Turlock. And it's at capacity, according to Municipal Services Director Dan Madden.

The expansion will provide more processing ability for more residences and organic industrial waste. Those new homes and businesses also will pay toward the expansion. Any extra money will be put into a reserve fund for other future upgrades, which are anticipated as state legislators demand more intensive waste treatment.

City officials are trying to attract businesses to Turlock's west side industrial development area, and having room to treat waste from those businesses could help attract them.

Bee staff writer Eve Hightower can be reached at 578-2382 or ehightower@modbee.com.